Filmmaker Brian Horrorwitz knows the work of legendary B-movie filmmaker Jess Franco better than anybody else this side of the Atlantic. Horrorwitz is the producer-director of Antena Criminals, an unreleased documentary on the making of Franco’s Blind Target, and a collector of the legendary B-movie director’s movies, posters, and music. As proprietor of the Silver Spring B-Movie Museum and the mail-order store Trash Palace, Horrorwitz also sells many of Franco’s most obscure movies, soundtracks, and posters.
And now Horrorwitz will be shooting Franco’s next movie, Cry Without Tears, “an erotic thriller set in a fictionalized Maryland town,” due out in late December. According to Horrorwitz, Cry Without Tears is “a surreal mystery…that explores the gray areas of misunderstood acts…such as sexual deviance.”
Themes of sexual deviance and powerful female characters constantly recur in Franco’s writing and filmmaking. “Franco is one of the few directors that relentlessly refilmed his personal obsessions,” says Horrorwitz. “And he’s obsessed with the femme fatale [who] seduces and then kills. All the themes—bondage, ghostly seduction, revenge—thread through many of Franco’s films.”
Horrorwitz, tall, lean, and sporting a fluorescent Attack of the Giant Leeches T-shirt, is eager to talk about his budding relationship with Franco, which started with the elder director’s interest in Horrorwitz’s band, the Ubangis.
After letting Franco use the Ubangis’ surf-rock sound in Lust for Frankenstein and Vampire Blues, Horrorwitz asked Franco in the spring of 1999 if he could shoot a documentary on the making of Blind Target. Franco agreed, and Horrorwitz spent the weeks from Jan. 21 to Feb. 15 filming the filming on location in Malaga, Spain.
The shoot proved a coup for Horrorwitz; as Franco had not allowed anyone to make a film about him for 30 years. Notes Horrorwitz: “Franco is fascinating not because of his special effects or technical camerawork, but because [Franco’s films] explore in a very honest way the motivations people have for doing horrible things.”